Annual hunger banquet brings awareness to food insecurity


By Gemma Carretta, Staff Writer

Mason’s office of Social Action and Integrative Learning (SAIL) hosted an annual Hunger Banquet on Nov. 14, where approximately 100 Mason students, faculty, and staff gathered to learn about food insecurity.

Jason Padilla, one of SAIL’s staff members, explained that the Hunger Banquet “allows participants to see what hunger looks like around the world,” as well as in their own community. “Hunger is happening all across the world, but [it] is also happening on the Mason campus,” Padilla explained.

Attendees of this year’s banquet were able to learn about how prevalent hunger is around the globe. The event was designed as an interactive experience that allowed participants to step into the lives of different people with varying income levels in order to show how much food is available to them.

They also learned that hunger is not caused by a lack of food on earth, explained Onyinyechi Ekeanyanwu, a junior at Mason majoring in Integrative Studies and the programs and event coordinator for SAIL. Ekeanyanwu said that the real problem regarding hunger comes from the unequal distribution of resources: wealthier countries have access to more food than they need, leaving poorer countries with less than what is needed to cover their people’s basic needs.

“Every person on earth has the same basic needs,” Ekeanyanwu added, but within these countries, differences among income in different regions further increase disparities in food distribution and availability.

While many Mason organizations have been connected to the Hunger Banquet in the past, organizers explained that Patriot Pantry has always been the most involved. Padilla explained that joining two organizations that help those in need can bring even more awareness to the issue.

Dominic Straquadine, a junior majoring in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and a Sustainability LLC member involved in the planning of the banquet, explained that partnering with organizations like the Patriot Pantry helps students to better understand the problem of hunger not only in other countries, but also in their own local community.

To attend the Hunger Banquet, participants were required to bring at least one of the Patriot Pantry’s most requested items, including non-perishable food items, toiletries, and school supplies. This pantry lends extra support to Mason students who are food insecure or cannot afford basic supplies.

Photos Courtesy of Nicolas Macotto